Going paperless is already an option with most bill pay systems in the United States, but one Scandinavian nation is taking paperless to a whole new level. According to recent reports, Denmark may go completely cashless by January of 2016, making it the first country in the world to entirely abandon paper currency in favor of electronic money.
This would apply mostly to retail stores, as hospitals, pharmacies, and post offices would still be required to accept cash payments. Still, with such a large portion of the economy switching over to e-money, dollar bills may soon become an antiquated novelty.
Surprisingly, this is not as drastic a measure as it may seem; many Danes are already relatively independent of cash and coin, with nearly 40 percent of the paying demographic using MobilePay, a Danske Bank app that allows all payments to be completed via smartphone. Think Google Wallet or Apple Pay en masse, but with super widespread adoption. MobilePay is only becoming more popular, as usage has grown significantly in the last month alone. When news first broke of Denmark’s plans to go cashless in May, less than a third of the population used the app. But in just one month alone, this rate increased significantly and is only projected to continue growing.
Michael Busk-Jepsen, executive director of the Danish Bankers Association, told CNN Money that a society sans cash is “no longer an illusion but a vision that can be fulfilled within a reasonable time frame.” This is certainly more true in Scandinavia than in the U.S. Whereas citizens in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark have paved the way towards solely electronic payments, a whopping 47 percent of Americans still make cash transactions. Scandinavians, by contrast, use cash for less than 6 percent of their payments.
The switch makes good economic sense for the country, experts say, with electronic payments cutting down on currency production costs and increasing transparency. Of course, fraud is a considerable risk to consider, but as technological advances are made, hopes are that these problems will soon be remediated.
So if you’re sick of carrying around change, we suggest a trip to Denmark.